The first and most difficult step to determine whether contract heifer rearing is a viable option for a dairy producer is to do an in-depth financial analysis of the heifer enterprise on the dairy farm. Don Gardner, DVM, Gardner Bovine Veterinary Service and Gardner Heifers Inc. Huddleston,
Allocation of these costs to the heifer enterprise can be quite elusive since the heifer enterprise is typically imbedded in the milking enterprise. Currently in 2010 average heifer enterprise costs are ranging between $1,600 to $1,850 over the rearing period of the heifer. Queries to experienced successful heifer growers indicate that in stand-alone efficiently run operations, custom raisers are capable of returning
Under this example heifers arrive at the grower around 5 months of age weighing 300-400 lbs [136-182 kg]. Allowing for approximately $375 in costs incurred by the dairyman before going to the grower, the dairy producer has the opportunity to calve heifers at appropriate age and weight for approximately $1,475.
Zwald et al surveyed 44
In the past, feed costs were the top expense category on a dairy farm followed by labor. In the last few years, replacement costs have moved into second place dropping labor to third.